Kinect was supposed differentiate the Xbox One from the PlayStation 4. It was supposed to herald in a new future for a voice-controlled entertainment experience. Instead, Microsoft's 3D gesture-control camera has become the Xbox One's Achilles heel.
Last month, in a desperate move to make the Xbox One a more attractive purchase, Microsoft decoupled the Kinect from the console. The removal of Kinect will lower the Xbox One from $499 to $399 to better compete with the PlayStation 4, which goes for $399.
Microsoft had big plans for Kinect. It wanted more developers to create games with Kinect features in mind. Developers responded by ignoring it. Customers feared the camera would spy on them. It would appear nobody but Microsoft still believes in Kinect.
In what can only be an admission that Kinect was holding the Xbox One's performance back, Microsoft told Eurogamer that the console will get a 10 percent GPU boost when Kinect is not plugged into it. Ten percent may not seem like a lot, but it could mean developers will be able to build games with higher resolution and higher framerates. In terms of sheer performance, the PlayStation 4 and its 8GB of GDDR5 RAM runs circles around the Xbox One's slower 8GB of DDR3 RAM.
In most cases, the PS4 has the advantage over the Xbox One for multi-platform games. Games on PS4 usually have higher resolution and speedier framerates. And sadly, games that look noticeably next-gen matters to a lot of people.
If the Xbox One's bumpy start and marketing mishaps has taught us anything, it's that the console is pretty resilient. Like most devices today, new features can be patched in at a later time.
On Wednesday, Microsoft announced that the Xbox One's app library will soon total over 225 apps. Over 45 new apps including Twitter, Vine, HBO Go, ShowTime Anywhere, Comedy Central and MLG are coming.
Moreover, Microsoft says a system software update that's rolling out globally this week will add external storage support, real names, free games for Xbox LIVE Gold members and improved SmartGlass integration.
And in other related Xbox One news, the console's game controller (with 40 enhancements) now works with PCs. Frankly, when I'm gaming on PC, I prefer keyboard and mouse, but hey, more power to you if you like using a console-style controller. You can find downloads for the PC drivers here.
Whereas the Xbox One wasn't that attractive of a purchase six months ago, it now is. These additions and improvements add value for existing Xbox One owners and give prospective buyers a reason to get a new console. But Microsoft's not in the clear yet. It still needs to show us the games. (Next week's E3 should reveal more.) The only thing we still have to come to terms with now is the console's boxy VCR/Betamax look.